Secret Garden: Episode 9
With our leads back to “normal,” Episode 9 turns back to the romantic developments and dials down the wacky, which I suppose is necessary though I’ll admit to missing the zany physical comedy of the past few episodes, because some of those body-switch bits were truly hysterical. True, they were sometimes played more for the laugh than for character consistency, but when that gives us Hyun Bin demonstrating how to wear a bra, or Ha Ji-won smirking like a smug rich bastard, I’m game to go along for the ride.
SONG OF THE DAY
Tim – “그대여” [ Download ]
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Body switch! Ra-im does a dance of joy, and she and Joo-won confirm that they’re back to their original selves.
Joo-won holds up his handcuffs and asks her what she’s gonna do about it (pffft!), which I wish were half as kinky as it sounds. Ra-im responds with satisfaction, “Seeing that we were switched back in this type of situation, there really must be a God.” She throws his words back at him about leaving her sit in jail to suffer, and flounces out cheerily.
Joo-won is transferred to a jail cell, where he has to now contend with the consequences of having called his lawyer off the case back when he was Joo-wonda. Secretary Kim is baffled at his boss’s abrupt personality switch (again) and goes to call for help.
A snore from his cellmate draws Joo-won’s attention to the drunken man sleeping under a blanket… wearing clothes that cast a familiar sparkle.
Stunned to see HIS trademark look worn “so carelessly,” Joo-won tries to sneak a glimpse of a tag or a label, and asks the sleeping man where he bought these clothes. He gets no response, but the man rolls over, revealing the words stitched across the back: “Hyun Bin at the entrance.” He sleepily mumbles, “Come to… Secret Nightclub…” PFFFFT.
Joo-won falls back in horror to realize that his precious Italian tracksuit has been made into cheap knockoffs and is being worn by nightclub attendants as walking advertisements. (The message, combined with the guy’s sales pitch, means, “Come to Secret Nightclub and find the waiter Hyun Bin at the entrance.”)
Ra-im greets Ah-young enthusiastically at home, though her jaw drops to see the apartment transformed: Joo-won(ita) has upgraded the furnishings, decorating it with high-priced items and even installing a chandelier into the bedroom/living-room. The guy sure likes his things sparkly.
To the ladies, these are just nuisances that take up too much room. Ra-im is shocked to hear that she supposedly bought all this stuff, and says she’ll make sure to return them all.
Director Park is practically giddy as he informs Chairman Kim about Joo-won’s brush with the law, tsk-tsk-ing about the way he assaulted a VIP client. Grandpa wonders what has gotten into his grandson, but it’s his wife — the Madam Park so hated by Joo-won’s and Oska’s mothers — who speaks up. She chides Director Park (her brother), saying that it was right of Joo-won to step in to defend a woman who was being sexually harassed, and that puts an end to this conversation.
Innnnteresting. So the despised fourth wife and potential inheritance-grabber is actually a decent human being, and blocks her brother’s attempt to undermine her step-grandson?
With a few strings pulled, Joo-won is released from jail. He berates his secretary for not preparing the car or an umbrella, because there’s no way HE’s going out into the rain. Ra-Him’s thoughtfulness has lulled Secretary Kim into a false sense of security about his boss, and he cheerily offers his coat to hold over their heads.
Joo-won glowers and gives him his options: “Run into the rain. Buy a luxury umbrella. Or die.” Aw, poor eager-to-please Secretary Kim. And to think, if only Joo-won treated him right he could probably have his loyalty for life. (Well, he’s loyal right now, but that’s driven by fear; if the relationship were cultivated, I’d bet his secretary would take a bullet for him.)
Joo-won arrives at Ra-im’s place and has a brief, hilarious exchange with Ah-young. Since he has gotten to know her in their brief time as roommates, he talks to her in a familiar way, like he did when he was Joo-wonita. But coming out of his own mouth, his friendly words give Ah-young Other Ideas, especially since she already thinks he’s interested in her.
Ra-im has been considering Joo-won’s comment that she never thinks of things from his perspective, and now she apologizes for ditching him at the police station. She’d been so thrilled to be back to herself that she feared getting swapped again if she stuck nearby. (This raises an interesting potential conflict — Ra-im feels it’s best to stay away from each other, just so they don’t tempt the fates to swap ’em back.)
She asks him to take back everything he bought for the apartment, then apologizes for hitting the pervert, although she admits she’d do it again. Still, she’ll pay back the settlement fee.
Joo-won tells her he’s not here for his stuff, which begs the question, Then why?
Pulling her into a hug, Joo-won says, “I came to do this.”
He’s pleased with her decision to pay the settlement, as it demonstrates a responsible attitude, and tells her to come by the office tomorrow to settle the rest of their affairs.
After Oska’s team finds out that the leak of his plagiarized song came from Seul’s office, Tae-sun hangs around to find out whether they nabbed the culprit. Tae-sun (whom I’ve just realized is totally Jung Il-woo Lite) can read from Oska’s reaction that he must know the guilty party, but he points out that if Oska doesn’t produce a culprit, the issue can’t be resolved in the public’s eyes. Oska is resigned about the situation, and just tells Tae-sun to sleep over… since it’s raining. (Suuure.) Blame it on the rain. (Ye~ah, yeah.) Since we’re talking about plagiarism and all.
Despite what the tech guys said, Seul isn’t the culprit; at the moment, she is getting expert opinions on Oska’s song, which the producers judge to be a clear ripoff. But when they suggest that Oska may have known about the song’s origins, Seul is surprisingly vigorous in her defense, saying he’s not that kind of guy.
Joo-won finds that his home’s passcode has been changed, and when he reaches for his phone to call Ra-im, he realizes that they hadn’t swapped their phones back. Two things raise his hackles: her phone wallpaper is Oska’s face, and his own number is entered under the name “Crazy Mofo Kim.”
He calls to demand the new number, and Ra-im gets back at him by pulling the same stunt he pulled on her, pretending that the line is going dead. Serves you right, Mofo.
I love that Crazy Mofo’s immediate thought is that Ra-im changed the number to HER measurements, and he tries to approximate her body in his mind to guess that. (He guesses 32-27-32.)
Ra-im texts him a hint about a zodiac sign, which makes him think back to a comment she made to Oska. As he mutters, “If that’s it, you’re dead,” he enters what must be his cousin’s birthdate, 76-08-18.
At least that gets him inside. But as though that weren’t bad enough, Joo-won discovers with annoyance that he’s wearing… Oska socks.
Further humiliating is how Ra-Him had washed his boxers by hand and laid them out to dry, right out in the open. What, hand-stitching’s okay, but not hand-washing?
Ra-im exults to be back at home, and asks Ah-young cautiously if she’d done anything strange or untoward in the past few days. Ah-young glares at her with narrowed eyes, bursting out in indignation over all the things Joo-wonita had said and done to her, like forcing her to sleep on the floor after refusing to share the bed. Ra-im assures her friend that she doesn’t mean any of that stuff, but Ah-young settles down to sleep peevishly.
Intending to set the alarm clock, Ra-im takes out Joo-won’s phone, but finds to her surprise the photos he has saved of her.
By now it’s pretty clear that neither Seul nor Oska are over their breakup, so it isn’t such a surprise that he still keeps the engagement ring he’d offered her by his bed, which he takes out now as he remembers her hurtful rejection. And how, in Jeju, she had said they weren’t in love. And how she’d told him not to lie about acting to protect her, when he was really protecting himself.
Equally clear is that some big misunderstanding is keeping the pain bitter on both ends, because they both feel they were the hurt party. I don’t know; it almost feels like they’re both keeping themselves willfully in the dark because they both want to cling to their martyr complexes. I’d want to know for sure and move on, but I wonder if they’d both rather keep hating each other than confront the truth. Beats hating themselves?
Joo-won is pleased to announce to Oska that he is back to being himself now, and that he didn’t mean any of the nice stuff he’s done recently. Just in case big bro thought he was going soft.
This conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a text, from Ra-im to Oska. It’s a message of encouragement to cheer up, saying that his problems will work out, to which Oska sends a reply text. But curiously, the phone rings in Joo-won’s pocket. (Are we to ignore the fact that Ra-im wasn’t at her phone when she supposedly texted it? I suppose some fanwanking can explain that possibility of internet-based texting, but…)
In response, Joo-won can’t help mocking Oska for his socks — does he like the idea of his fans sweating all over his printed face? He adds that Ra-im only likes him as a casual fan: “If you ask her what celebrities she likes, you’re at the level where she’d take three seconds to think about it, then respond, ‘Os…ka?'”
The next day at the department store, the female employees gossip about how cool Joo-won was for punching the pervert VIP. Instantly he’s gone from abrasive boss to dreamboat, and Ah-young thinks knowingly to herself that perhaps his sudden change is prompted by “the power of love.”
So when he makes his morning entrance, the ladies eagerly line up… only to get the formerly cold, dismissive Joo-won instead. Ah-young in particular is disappointed, having anticipated that he’d look at her with some interest or affection. Or even just recognition.
Hearing that Joo-won is back to being cold, Director Park gnashes his teeth to unravel the hidden significance of this development. Is Joo-won messing with his mind somehow? What does this all MEAN? Well, I suppose it’s better to have your enemies barking up the wrong tree entirely, rather than guessing the truth.
Joo-won expects a mountain of paperwork to sign, but is told that he already took care of it. Grabbing open a folder, Joo-won sees in horror that Ra-im has signed his documents in her childish scrawl, replete with heart lettering. Joo-won berates Secretary Kim for not stopping him, and gets back the response that he had initially found it odd, but figured that Joo-won had just changed to a “pretty” new signature. Lol.
This also complicates matters with an upcoming Christmas event, which Director Park proposed and Ra-Him authorized. It’s a couples event awarding a prize if it snows on Christmas, but Joo-won counters that the promotion is only going to alienate the singles who’d rather be part of a couple. He changes a few details (like changing snow to rain, because rain is rarer on Christmas and therefore the prize bound to be harder to attain and therefore more desirable and blah blah blah), instructing Director Park to get busy with revisions.
Oska storms in to Seul’s office to confront her about leaking his plagiarized song online. She argues that she’s not that low, but he counters that she is — she’s low enough to betray him and then travel abroad with the guy he hated most, and low enough to plan on marrying his cousin to piss him off.
Seul is hurt to realize that he hasn’t come to ask if she did it; he’s already decided she’s guilty. Telling him that he won’t believe her anyway, she adds that he believed others over her in the past as well. Oska requests earnestly that they never see each other again, and leaves the office in a daze of hurt, while Seul breaks down in her office alone.
One of Seul’s employees realizes that the leak came from her co-worker, who’d inadvertently downloaded a video using Seul’s computer. It was a peer-to-peer sharing site, and she hadn’t realized that Oska’s new song was uploadable. Oops. Scared for themselves, they swear to keep this between them.
Ra-im literally bounces her way into the action school, thrilled to be back at work. The stunt guys are confused, since it was just the other day that she so haughtily declared she was done with this lifestyle, and that she must really have chosen to do physical work because she was too dumb for mental work.
Ra-im assures them that she doesn’t mean that, and bounds off to see Jong-soo, who poses for his requisite topless scene. All hunky guys do their brooding in the shower, don’tcha know?
Recalling how Ra-im (technically Joo-wonina) told him never to confess his feelings for her, he’s wary, although she seems as friendly and warm as before. She announces that she’s back, and that she won’t be acting strange anymore.
She also thanks him for the movie script and vows to work hard preparing for the stunts and filming a demo video. She confuses him a bit when she declares the English difficult, because he found hers surprisingly good, but she chalks it up to “momentary insanity.” Hee.
Joo-won’s sour-faced mother, still as nosy and meddling as ever, hires someone to follow Ra-im around, and looks over the most recent batch of photos. They’re from her (Joo-wanda’s) shopping spree for apartment furnishings, which even snooty mom understands is out of character for a stuntwoman. She orders her man to find out everything about her background and family.
More family meddling comes in the form of Hee-won, Joo-won’s younger sister, who arrives at the action school looking for Ra-im. The first person she talks to is Jong-soo, whom she eyes with some interest and even goes so far as to ask if he’s married. What, a consolation prize for Jong-soo already? He hasn’t even fought for Ra-im yet!
The women step out for a chat, where Hee-won asks Ra-im some questions about herself, then gets distracted by mention of Jong-soo. She’s thrilled to hear he’s a director (much more impressive than stuntman!), and you can practically hear her planning out her wedded bliss already.
Hee-won is curious about Ra-im’s relationship to Joo-won and Oska; at Ra-im’s blanket denial of any involvement, she wonders why Ra-im accepted her mother’s payoff, then. She heard Ra-im spent it all in one day, too. Hee-won describes herself as the “most normal” in her family — which, admittedly, isn’t much of a statement given her competition — and is here to tip Ra-im off about being investigated by her mother.
So when Ra-im meets Joo-won to swap phones back, she gives him a swift kick in the leg for good measure when he shows no qualms for having taken the money from Mummy Dearest. She’s mortified because taking the money strips her of her ability to stand on her pride, which she clings to in the absence of all else. But Joo-won replies that he’d hoped she’d win — that she’d show his mother that she’s a force to be reckoned with.
In fact, he sees it as fortunate that he was there to meet his mother instead of her, because Ra-im would’ve just bowed meekly and spewed a litany of apologies: “Whether you accept that money or not, the result would have been the same. We would have kept seeing each other.”
On the contrary, Ra-im declares that she never wants to see him again and vows to return the money to his mother, replete with apology and an assurance that they’re nothing to each other.
Furthermore, she’s been thinking over Joo-won’s comment about the Little Mermaid, and she has decided that she has no right to this whole comparison/scenario: “Because the Little Mermaid loved her man.” Implication: And I don’t love you.
It’s a pretty effective shutdown, and she turns to go, leaving Joo-won staring after her in shock and hurt. He comes chasing her into the hallway, and stops the elevator doors just as they’re closing.
He makes an attempt to step inside, but with his claustrophobia he can’t, and he orders her out instead. Ra-im shuts the door.
Joo-won beelines for the stairway and runs all the way to the ground level, where he looks around the department store for a sign of her. She’s gone.
At home, Ra-im packs up all of Joo-wonda’s expensive purchases, and only now sees that Joo-won has vandalized her Oska calendar (and Oska posters) by drawing all over his face. At least she gets him back (sorta), as Joo-won finds when he gets home:
Joo-won finds a map of his compound, which has been decorated with hearts surrounding Oska’s house; his own is marked by a skull and crossbones. On top of that, Ra-im has noted particular spots where she can steal glimpses of Oska without being seen.
Oska’s plagiarism controversy hits the newspapers, and in an attempt to mitigate the damage, his manager wants to organize his comeback. Oska balks, saying that it’ll just increase the noise around them, but he’s swayed when his manager insists that they’re going to be SOL if they don’t resume activities now.
So, Oska reluctantly gets to work promoting his next single, and I only regret not having this awesome pic for the best perm category in the Beanie Awards.
As predicted, his public appearances offer plenty of chances for the press to mob him and prod about the plagiarism scandal, which he tries to ignore. After one TV program performance, he spots Ra-im watching the scene from a distance, and they end up chatting at a cafe.
Ra-im wishes him luck on his comeback and compliments his performance. She says that since his fans are hanging in there, he should do the same. Then she comments in an inadvertently backhanded manner that Oska fans are pretty good at weathering negative situations, which implies that he’s always getting into trouble.
He wonders what she means by that, and she references all his “scandals with women.” He jokes, “Isn’t that better than scandals with men?” Are we foreshadowing?
Oska drives Seul home, and Ra-im tentatively asks a parting question about Seul. She doesn’t know what’s up with them, but she knows there’s something, given how he left her on the road that day. She says gently, “I know it’s not something I should butt into, but a man who makes a woman cry is a mean person.”
Oska sighs that despite his age (35), he still feels like a 10-year-old, and wonders why he’s still such a child. Her answer cheers him up; she says that real kids are always insisting they’re older.
That makes him smile, and he compliments her, saying she’s way cooler than he’d thought. It makes her smile bashfully and tap her toe on the ground… just as a third voice sounds:
“What a pretty picture.” It’s Joo-won, of course.
Wearing a brand-spankin’-new, magenta-and-black-lace-patterned tracksuit. I DIE.
Le tracksuit est mort, vive le tracksuit!
With the body-swapping antics out of the way, this episode opens the door for some emotional developments… but I don’t think it really goes there. Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won are totally selling their characters and their chemistry is sparking like crazy, which makes their interactions a whole lotta fun to watch, but this episode seems sort of like more of the same, doesn’t it? He accuses her of not thinking of him, she accuses him of being a jackass, he actually IS a jackass, and lather-rinse-repeat. Director Park seethes behind the scenes and plot’s Joo-won’s demise, but doesn’t actually do anything other than jump to conclusions. Jong-soo broods.
On the upside, even when the plot treads water for a bit, a drama that is as strong as this one in witty dialogue and comic moments is still entirely engaging to watch, thanks to its sense of humor, high production values, strong acting, etc. I don’t mind that much that I’m not getting emotional depth in these recent episodes, although it would be nice — I mean, I don’t begrudge 30 Rock for not being heart-tugging. But I suspect this drama wants us to be a lot more invested than we are/I am. If we’re going to go there, I hope we can start getting there, already. Perhaps it’s time to up the narrative ante.
The one really nice moment was the expression on Joo-won’s face after Ra-im makes her Little Mermaid comment, when he seems not only stunned at the what she’s telling him but actually on the cusp of making a breakthrough, of realizing what where she’s coming from. It’s a great little beat that Hyun Bin plays so well, and I’d love to see more like that.
Oh god, did I just ask for more angst? But no, I don’t want Fate jerking us around for the hell of it, or outlandish villains swooping in to trip up our heroes. Just some emotional stakes. If we could have more plot than mere “Will they or won’t they?” back-and-forth, that would be dandy.
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